People at the Center: UN Commission Adopts Resolutions on Disability, Youth

WYA’s emphasis on human dignity as foundation
for person-centered development recognized

Feb. 10, 2017

NEW YORK—The United Nations Commission on Social Development concluded its fifty-fifth session today with the adoption of resolutions on global social development, one on the rights of persons with disabilities and one on youth. World Youth Alliance congratulates the Commission on the adoption of these resolutions and notes with gratitude the welcome call for policies grounded in human dignity.

The Commission on Social Development meets to discuss ways to ensure that development occurs at all levels of society. This year, its theme was “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all.” The Commission looked specifically at ways to address social exclusion and ensure that poverty eradication efforts help members of marginalized groups such as persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, older persons, women, and youth. This mandate is reflected in the resolutions adopted.

“The Commission’s resolution on the rights of persons with disabilities is ultimately a recognition of the dignity of the human person,” said Anna Halpine, founder and CEO of WYA. “We have inherent value because we are human, not because of or in spite of our abilities or disabilities.” The resolution expresses the intent of Member States to mainstream policies for persons with disabilities, as well as to work to combat discrimination and to ensure opportunity.

The Commission also adopted a resolution on policies and programs concerning youth, which stressed the necessity of ensuring young people have employment, education, and training opportunities. The resolution emphasizes the importance of including youth, youth-led and youth-centered organizations in discussions on youth policy. “I was glad to see a lot of discussion about ways that youth can contribute now, and not just in the future,” WYA intern Flannery McGale said. “We aren’t valuable just because we will have an impact in the future, but because we have dignity today.”

WYA gave an oral statement on Feb. 7 calling upon Member States to keep human dignity at the foundation of their efforts and highlighting our Human Dignity Curriculum. At the close of that meeting, Mr. Philipp Charwath, Chair of the Commission and Deputy Permanent Representative of Austria, specifically highlighted the call to keep human dignity at the center of our efforts.

He stated, “I think it was very fitting though today that quite a few speakers reminded us that it’s actually human dignity which is at the center of our efforts here, and in fact I believe it’s at the center of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This requires social justice, compassion, and an ethical compass.” He also lauded the statement by FEMM, WYA’s sister organization. Both statements by WYA and FEMM were featured in the United Nations’ press release reporting on that meeting.

WYA will continue to monitor events at the United Nations and advocate for respect for human dignity to achieve authentic development.